How do you feel about speaking?
Maybe you’re somebody who would frankly rather go to the dentist and have a root canal?
Perhaps you are fairly confident at getting up in front of a group of people, but you feel like you are lacking a bit of charisma?
Maybe sometimes you worry that when you get up to speak, people are going to think you suck and are soooooo boring Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz?
The trouble is, if you’re not getting up and speaking on a regular basis, it’s very difficult for you to grow your Private Practice.
Believe it or not, when you’re giving a talk at a conference or at a workshop or maybe making some educational videos, you’re marketing your Practice at the same time you are educating people.
Now you might be thinking…
“Hmmm… I’m at a stage of my career whereby I don’t really yet think of myself as being an expert. What have I got to say? I haven’t produced some glorious educational content or something amazing that’s being published in the BMJ”.
Think about your experience of being spoken to, especially when you were going through your medical career. Your experiences will often be very different from what a ‘good’ speaker-audience relationship should be. I’m sure you remember terrible lectures you sat through or snored through.
Part of the problem is that we are lead to believe that you have to be a Professor or similar to have the audacity to stand up and speak.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
These days when I’m going to hear someone speak, I go because it’s about what they are going to say, rather than who they are. It all comes down to one basic…
A good speaker helps us to: Solve a problem.
If you can help your audience to solve a problem, it doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what letters you have after your name.
Let me give you an example; I’m a Sports Doctor, I work in Sport and Exercise Medicine, and my specialist interest is in hip and groin problems. Many people come to hear me talk because they find it a little bit tricky. I find hip and groin problems fairly easy because I’ve been doing it for years.
When people come to hear me speak, I’ll often take them through a process of asking them some questions and breaking it down.
These are my Top 5 Ninja Tips for planning your next talk…
What problem can you simplify for your audience?
Never make the mistake of assuming that the audience’s knowledge is the same as yours. I’m not talking about dumbing it down, but there’s nothing wrong with going back to good, solid basics.
Here’s the thing, as soon as you shoot over someone’s head, you lose them as an audience member, and it’s tough to get them to re-engage.
Work out in advance what it is that you really want them to know at the end of your talk.
It’s much better to get people to try and recall a couple of things, rather than deliver some gigantic university curriculum to them.
Even if the person who is giving a talk is deeply engaging, and you find yourself writing copious amounts of notes – notes that will get put into a drawer and never looked at again. You may as well have not gone to that lecture.
I confess. I am that sort of person; I go to conferences, I write all these notes, they go in a drawer, and I don’t look at them again. Doh!
A far more effective speaker is somebody who can leave you with just a few handfuls of ‘to take-away points’, that you are going to be able to recall at the end of the talk.
If I go and give a talk about running injuries, and specifically ankle injuries in runners, I’m going to make damn sure that by the end of that talk, the people will know how to spot a syndesmosis injury confidently.
Find a willing Guinea Pig.
Practise explaining the tricky technical bits to a non-clinical person. See if you can tweak it until you get that magic moment when they say, “I get it now.”
Sometimes using analogies can be helpful here. It could be that you are a rheumatologist and you are talking about osteoporosis, and you might explain osteoporosis is “a disappearing act of the bone” rather than “not enough bone ingredients”.
Get out from behind that lectern, get amongst the audience.
You might be thinking… “I feel safe behind that nice wooden stall.”
It’s great there, isn’t it? You can just peer over and bend the microphone down, but it’s far better to get amongst the audience and actually engage with them.
Q: How do you do that?
A: Ask them questions.
I might ask a member of the audience to share with me a time that they found they had a difficult case, perhaps a patient with difficult hip and groin pain. I’m going to ask them several questions in succession to dig down to why they found that patient difficult. Maybe then we could all come to the common conclusion, it’s because we need to simplify hip and groin pain.
It’s much better to get the audience to come to a conclusion, rather than you ramming it down their throats.
Rome wasn’t built in a day!
You need to practise, practise, practise. The best speakers are people who’ve been at it for years, they talk lots, and they get in front of lots of audiences.
The more you do it, the less fear you’re going to feel.
So, get yourself out there speaking… and soon.
If you would like more help from me with your public speaking techniques, all you have to do is…
Now it’s time for you to grow ‘your’ Private Practice.
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